© istock/goncharovaia
© istock/goncharovaia
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The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg

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Speaking of the most important places to visit in Saint Petersburg, Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood is such a sight. This building is famous for its similarity to Saint Basil’s Cathedral at Moscow’s Red Square, so it’s very easy to spot it in the very center of Saint Petersburg. Being an important historical site and active cathedral, the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood attracts both locals and tourists.

Back to history

© istock/Vladislav Zolotov
© istock/Vladislav Zolotov

The construction of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood began in 1883. It was commissioned by Emperor Alexander III of Russia, whose father, Alexander II, was killed two years before by radical revolutionists. Alexander II of Russia is known for being a liberator because during his reign, he canceled serfdom, i.e. dependency of Russian peasants on their landlords. Nevertheless, his actions were considered to be quite controversial, that’s why there were several attempts of killing him. The last attempt was conducted on March 1, 1881, on the boardwalk of Griboedov Canal (then called Yekaterininsky) while the carriage of Alexander II was passing there from the side of the Winter Palace. That’s why the Emperor’s son, Alexander III of Russia, decided to build the church right there to commemorate his father’s memory.

The construction

© istock/yulenochekk
© istock/yulenochekk

First things first, it was decided to make the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood differ from other cathedrals of Saint Petersburg. Unlike, for example, Kazan Cathedral and Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, with their classicism appearance, the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood was meant to be of ‘late Russian style’, similar to St. Basil’s Cathedral of Moscow, and the city of Yaroslavl churches.

Back then, the construction of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood was extremely expensive. Perhaps, now an excuse for it is the fact that it has more than 7.500 square meters of mosaics and magnificent interior, designed by famous Russian artists, such as Mikhail Aleksandrovich Vrubel and Viktor Mikhaylovich Vasnetsov. Initially, the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood wasn’t meant to be a building for huge gatherings. The most sacred place there is the one where the blood of Alexander II of Russia had spilled.

After October Revolution

When the reign of monarchs in Russia was over, the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood entered the new era. Subsidies from state’s side were canceled, and the cathedral was closed in 1932. Afterward, its premises were used for vegetable storage, and even as a mortuary during the Siege of Leningrad in the times of World War II and the Great Patriotic War. After the war, some theater decorations were stored there, and the government even wanted to dismantle the cathedral. But, in the 1970s, its restoration began. 

Starting from 1997, the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood is available for public visits, as part of the St. Isaac’s Cathedral Museum. Now, church services also take place in the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood in Saint Petersburg.       

Now, everyone can easily reach the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood from Nevsky Avenue, which is the main arteria in Saint Petersburg. It’s located at a stone’s throw from Singer House, as well as from Kazan Cathedral, both near Griboedov Canal. Visiting this historical site and active cathedral, and taking pictures in such a way that the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood is reflected in water, is a must-do in Saint Petersburg.

The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg
The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg
Griboyedov channel embankment, 2Б, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 191186

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The author

Maria Selezneva

Maria Selezneva

Hi, I am Maria, or Masha, as Russian speaking people call me. I’m your local guide for must-sees as well as off-the-beaten-track places in Moscow and St. Petersburg. I’ll show you my favourite destinations in both cities, where you can feel the true spirit of local traditions.

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